The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) announced recipients of its 2013 Distinguished Innovator Award, taking the organization across the globe to support highly innovative studies on two continents. Now the world’s largest private grants in novel lupus research, the LRI Distinguished Innovator Award supports large-scale studies for up to $1 million that can advance the search for a cure by uncovering fundamental causes of lupus.
The 2013 award recipients are David Tarlinton, PhD at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia and Kenneth Smith, MD, PhD of University of Cambridge, Great Britain. Dr. Tarlinton will explore new ways to kill the cells responsible for producing autoantibodies that damage tissue and organs in lupus. Dr. Smith is pursuing an approach to predicting lupus outcome that has potential to reveal new ways to stop lupus progression.
Getting at the Source of Autoantibodies
“Our project targets the cells that produce the disease-causing autoantibodies in lupus. The life span of these antibody secreting cells, which are called plasma cells, is normally controlled by a protein inside them called Lyn. In lupus, harmful plasma cells survive, possibly due to abnormally low levels of Lyn. We will search for drug candidates that can remove these plasma cells by mimicking the effects of Lyn.”
David Tarlinton, PhD, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia
Potential for Personalized Treatment
“We have discovered that lupus patients who develop more severe disease have a distinctive pattern of genes turned on in their white blood cells. My group will investigate whether this gene pattern can be used as a practical test for long-term lupus prognosis. Such a predictive test would allow for safer and more effective personalized treatment. We will also explore what causes this gene pattern, in the search for new treatment strategies.”
Kenneth Smith, MD, PhD, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK